Though it’s been around for decades, the idea of storing the blood from the umbilical cord is still relatively unheard of among many people. What is cord blood banking?
It’s retrieving the blood from the umbilical cord at the time of birth and saving it in a place that can safely keep it until it’s needed for your child.
Some people choose to donate their umbilical cord to blood banks that are not private ones. By doing this, they give the gift of life saving cells to someone else. When saving the blood, it’s done immediately after the birth and the procedure doesn’t hurt either the mother or the baby.
The reason that saving this blood is so vital is because stem cells are contained in the cord. These cells can take the place of cells in the body that are no longer viable – they can fight back against disease.
Some doctors consider these cells like a master key to the human body in that they can take the place of cells that don’t work or cells that cancer has invaded. In the event a child develops leukemia, his or her chances of recovery are less with a bone marrow transplant than they are with family-related cord blood.
Private vs. Public Blood Banks
What kind of facilities perform this valuable service? There are two ways people can keep cord blood safe. One is through a bank that’s private. At birth, the blood is collected and given to the facility.
For processing and storing the blood, donors will have to pay a recurring fee and this is usually paid annually. This blood is not made available to the general public and only the family that donated the blood can use it for medical purposes.
If you decide that you don’t want to privately store your cord blood, then you might consider donating it to a public blood bank. In these cases, the donated cord blood goes into a registry and anyone who needs it (like someone needing a bone marrow transplant) would then be able to get a donation of that blood. The donated blood has gone to help thousands of children who needed the stem cells from it.
Odds of Needing Cord Blood
What are the odds you’ll need to use the banked blood? Some doctors say that the chance the blood will be needed is 1 in 217 patients – and while that might not seem like bad odds, if you consider that your child or family member could be that one, then the odds are more threatening – and when life turns upside down, you want to be prepared to do all that you can to turn it right side up again.